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Edition 276 – Contrasts

In an all day meeting with a family business client recently, we met with two separate bankers. My client’s current bankers have dropped the ball and have stopped servicing the client. In spite of there being a reasonable loan balance and the opportunity for the bank to further invest with the client, the bank have not assigned them a manager since before Christmas 2020. It was time to look around for an alternative and two were invited in for a meet and greet.

The first banker arrived before time and the meeting commenced on time. The second banker arrived late, then proceeded to take a phone call in reception just as they were being shown through to the meeting.

The first banker asked questions and took notes. The second banker also asked questions and also took notes – however, from the emails that followed afterwards, must have misplaced them.

The first banker asked about the client. The second banker spoke about their adult son, his current issues buying a home and a recent, minor health incident.

The second banker talked about providing customer service. The first banker mouthed no platitudes.

Afterwards, upon receipt of the requisite financial information, the first banker sent a polite “thank you” reply. The second banker asked after a document which was actually attached to the email.

The first banker sent through some standard forms with clear instructions re: what information was required. The second banker sent through an indicative quote – with a significantly incorrect finance amount to what was spoken about in the meeting. They followed it up in the same email by requesting details of bank statements quoting a bank the client has never banked with.

The second banker phoned the next day and without introducing themselves, asked the client “did you receive the information I sent through?”

A former business partner of mine, Nick Matsis, once espoused an old Greek saying in a partner’s meeting that “you can tell the weather by the first thing in the morning”. It has stuck with me since I heard it and it’s rung true more times than I care to remember.

Two bankers. Two similar products. Two very contrasting relationships. Two potentially different experiences if it should proceed to an engagement.

It’s not rate or features or options that will determine which banker wins the deal. It’s all down to the relationship. How much does the individual banker care? How much do they listen to the client? How invested in the client’s business and personal story are they?

Customer service is not a motto – it’s a behaviour.

The business world is becoming more online and digital. Yet nothing will ever stand taller than a solid, respectful relationship between two parties.